Glimpses of grace seen in the everyday

Posts tagged ‘music’

God’s Musicians

clip_image002This morning our pastor told us of a new believer he was baptizing. He asked her how she came to faith, assuming it was through his preaching.  But she said no, it was because of the music she’d  heard as she passed by and then was drawn in.  Of that she was quite insistent. 

This reinforced what I had just read in the book of 1 Chronicles.  In the midst of lists of names, I found a beautiful surprise–a whole chapter (ch. 25) about the Temple musicians and their important work!  David himself and the army commanders appointed several hundred of them to praise the Lord with music every morning and evening with their voices and skillfully crafted instruments.  Just imagine how beautiful that must have been!  Wouldn’t I love to have been one of that group! 

One day I will be—around the throne of God, joined with millions of God’s people from all tribes and languages, from all times since the beginning of the earth.  No one will be singing off key, no hoarse voices, no arguments about worship styles, no wandering minds—just pure, passionate, perfect praise to the One who so well deserves it! 

As I play my piano every day just between me and the Lord, I pray that someone passing by will be blessed.  I believe God doesn’t waste anything.  Either way,  I like to think that I’m rehearsing for my part in that heavenly concert.

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What Are We Singing?

clip_image002Carolers appear at our gate every evening during this time of year. A few offer beautiful music, either vocal or instrumental.  Others beat on a can and shout something indecipherable, always followed by “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.” That’s our cue to come out with a treat. 

Of all the standard Christmas carols, the two we hear are “Joy to the World” and “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing.”  And one wonders, as the garbled words emerge from enthusiastic throats, do they understand what they’re singing?  Especially when it’s in English, which most of these children wouldn’t understand.  (I must say that it’s usually sung a second time in their own language.) 

Then I have to ask myself, do I really understand the same song when I sing it?  Do I think about it or does my mouth go on autopilot while I’m thinking about what’s for lunch?

Take this line from “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing”: 
God and sinners reconciled.  Unpacked, these four words contain the whole story:

–A former perfect relationship between God and humankind
–People becoming sinful and separated from God
–God’s provision of the means to restore that relationship.

It was done by God setting aside His divine privilege for the sake of the estranged human race and becoming one of us!  Coming down and reaching out to pay the  death penalty we deserve and restore us to the place He intended for us when He made us.

What love!  This is why we celebrate.  Would you turn down such a gift?

christmas-gift-with-big-bow

How Far from Here to Heaven?

Tears came as we sang “Hallelujah to the Lamb.”  We were in a small group of a dozen or so, but in my mind were other settings:  One was in church singing the same song ten days earlier with hundreds of people.  But even more, I visualized the larger choir that we were a part of:  the family of God all over the earth and in heaven—of all races and languages since the world began. 

More specifically, I pictured my newly-departed granddaughter in that choir, singing beside my dad (also who “couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket,” as he said, while on earth) and with David the psalmist—all in beautiful harmony side by side praising Jesus, the Lamb on the throne:

Lord I stand in the midst of a multitude
Of those from every tribe and tongue
We are Your people redeemed by Your blood
Rescued from death by Your love …

Hallelujah! Hallelujah!  Hallelujah to the Lamb
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! By the blood of Christ we stand
Every tongue, every tribe, every people, every land
Giving glory, giving honor, giving praise unto the Lamb of God  (by Don Moen)

I turned to my husband and asked, “How far do you think it is from here to heaven?”  We think of heaven being gazillions of light years away, somewhere outside our universe.  But I suspect it’s much, much closer than we realize—in another dimension just beyond a gauzy veil.  When our songs of praise and those of our loved ones already in God’s presence join together to delight His ears, just imagine the glory!  What a privilege to be part of that! 

One more note here:  I was blessed yesterday to read a friend’s blog about an experience in a dentist’s chair where her dentist started humming the song, “Because He Lives.”  That happened on July 3 here in the eastern hemisphere.  Calculating the difference in time, I realized that this was within the same day (July 2 in the US) when we grandparents and parents were singing that same song around the newly-vacated body of our beloved granddaughter, Emmeline.  (It was her lifelong favorite song. The lyrics are below.) Do you think someone in heaven was coordinating the music?  I think so—and with a smile. Smile Note

God sent His Son, they called Him Jesus;
He came to love, heal and forgive;
He lived and died to buy my pardon,
An empty grave is there to prove my Savior lives!

Chorus
     Because He lives, I can face tomorrow,
     Because He lives, all fear is gone;
     Because I know He holds the future,
     And life is worth the living
     Just because He lives!

How sweet to hold a newborn baby
And feel the pride and joy he gives;
But greater still the calm assurance:
This child can face uncertain days because He Lives!

And then one day, I’ll cross the river,
I’ll fight life’s final war with pain;
And then, as death gives way to vict’ry,
I’ll see the lights of glory and I’ll know He reigns!  (by Bill Gaither)

The Bible’s Theme Song

What kind of song does God prefer?  “Worship wars” have waged long and hot over the style of songs God’s people prefer.  Maybe we should be asking what kind of songs God himself prefers.

In the hymnbook of the Old Testament, the Psalms, one song appears over and over again:   Note 

“Give thanks to the Lord for he is good, for His faithful love endures forever.”  (Psalm 86:5; 100:5; 106:1; 136; and many more.)

This was the song sung on these notable occasions:

–The dedication of Solomon’s temple (2 Corinthians 5:13)

–The choir leading God’s people out meet attacking armies.  What a story!  As soon as they started to sing, God cause the enemies to attack one another, leaving only a sea of dead bodies and booty for the Israelites to clean up when they reached the scene.  (2 Chronicles 20:21-26)

–When the foundation of the second temple was laid after God’s people returned from exile (Ezra 3:11)

–When God brings His people back from exile and restores their fortunes and their land.  (Jeremiah 33:11)

This song is based on God’s self-description to Moses on the mountain, and it’s echoed also throughout the Bible:

The LORD passed in front of Moses, calling out,
“Yahweh! The LORD!
The God of compassion and mercy!
I am slow to anger
and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness.
I lavish unfailing love to a thousand generations.
I forgive iniquity, rebellion, and sin.
But I do not excuse the guilty…. (Exodus 34:6-7a)

Whatever tune or instrumentation they may have used, God loved their song! Note

Music in the Family

Our grandson’s group violin recital this week was a treat.  It opened with beautiful music from the advanced students.  Then I admired the cute, earnest beginners.  And as the music continued under the cross in the front of the church where the event was held, I realized how these details symbolize the beauty, diversity and unity of the Body of Christ.

Josiah's group recital, 2013-06-08

–A wide variety of ages and abilities were represented, but as the beginners played along with more advanced students for certain pieces, they ALL sounded good.

–The variety extended to the race of the students—Asian, Black, Caucasian, and Indian. 

–Just one teacher is teaching them all.

–All the violins were tuned to exactly the same pitch (by the teacher) before the recital.

–Students are learning leadership skills as they took turns leading the others in various pieces. 

–The students are being trained to keep their eyes on the leader so they can all make beautiful music together.

Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace.  For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future. There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one God and Father, who is over all and in all and living through all.  However, he has given each one of us a special gift through the generosity of Christ. …He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.  (Ephesians 4:3-7, 16 NLT)

When you don’t know the words…

No, the answer isn’t “hum”!  It’s “just substitute a different word that you do know.”  Malapropism is one of my favorite kinds of humor:  the ludicrous misuse of a word, especially by confusion with one of similar sound (American Heritage Dictionary).

As a child, “Bringing in the cheese” made made more sense to me than “Bringing in the sheaves.”   I loved cheese and had no idea what “sheaves” were. 

A few years ago someone mentioned that he was deeply concerned about the theology in a song that says:  “…When my will becomes enthroned in Your (i.e. God’s) love…” What a relief to find out that “enthroned” was supposed to be “enthralled.”  Do you suppose that someone who sang or copied the lyrics didn’t know what “enthralled” meant and just substituted another word without thinking—a word with exactly the opposite meaning?    So instead of my will being captive to God, it’s on the throne!  The dictionary gives the following senses of “enthrall.”  I suspect that the second is what the song writer intended:

  1. To hold spellbound; captivate.
  2. To enslave.

So when we sing, do we spout forth nonsense or even heresy because we’re not thinking?  Are our minds as well as our hearts engaged in praising God and voicing our commitment to Him?  (One more thing:  It’s worth checking out the theology in a song before singing it.)

Thank You for the Music!

The school children’s song brought a smile to my lips and an “Amen” from my heart:  “Thank You for the Music!” 

Of all the people in the Bible whose career I envy, it would be Heman, Asaph and Ethan, whose detailed family lines are listed in 1 Chronicles 6:31-48.  Their job must have been important to have such impressive credentials listed there:   Temple music!  Praising God!

Aren’t we privileged to have a God who communicates with us in this way?  He puts skill in the heads and hands and voices of those He chooses to lead in this service, and He plants joy and delight in the hearts of all of us who participate—whether in church, in the kitchen, the shower, or outdoors.  And then He sits back and enjoys it as we return the praise to Him.

Yes, thank You, Lord, for the music!Note

B J & R making music

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